RIP, Garage

This is what my backyard looks like after one day of demo work – some before and after photos.

Hiring out demo was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It was wicked hot today. I watched a crew of 4 large and muscular guys tearing this thing apart with their hands (and a couple power tools) for about 10 minutes this afternoon, and I can’t believe I ever even entertained the idea that Mel and I could do it on our own.

That would have been insane. We would have lasted about 10 minutes.

So long, friend.
RIP Garage.
Not so bad from this angle.
So long, Garage.

My favorite part is that they knocked down the entire thing and cut it up into chunks, and the garage and recycle bins are still in exactly the same place they were before they started. I guess they weren’t in the way…

The last time anyone will see this garage

A while back, I reported that I was pretty sure my garage was slowly falling into a sinkhole, and I asked y’all for some advice on what to do about it. The comments were 100% in favor of complete teardown and rebuild. I was teetering between a few options (including a couple I didn’t write about in the last post) that would allow us to be happy with the existing structure. But after a lot of hand-wringing and number crunching, we’ve decided to take your advice and just build a new garage.

We’ll be doing a lot of the work ourselves (and accepting a lot of help from family/friends), but we’re also hiring out some of the hardest and most critical parts. We’re hiring out demo and disposal of the old garage, just because we simply don’t have the man-power or equipment necessary to dispose of all the rubble. We’re also hiring out pouring the new foundation. I know just enough about concrete to know that I should leave it to the professionals when high-quality work is important. Since having a  square, level foundation is critical to making sure the whole garage goes together correctly, we’re just more comfortable having someone else do it.

We will handle all the framing and finish work ourselves. No, we’ve never done it before. No, we don’t really know how. But we’re gonna give it a shot anyway.

So take a good look at the photos below. This is the last time anyone will ever see this old garage. Tomorrow morning at 7:00 AM, some folks will be here to tear this poor lump of sadness down (hopefully without knocking down the neighbors garage along with it. If everything goes according to plan, by the end of the day Tuesday, this will just be an open patch of dirt.

So long, friend.
Not so bad from this angle.
Gable end.

I’m actually really excited to see what’s underneath this thing… Sinkhole? Underground cavern? Spelunking adventure? Muck? Pirate’s booty?

Probably just dirt.

Anyone want that satellite dish on top? It’s free so long as you remove it before 7:00 AM tomorrow morning.

Garage Sinkhole

I am about 80% certain our garage is slowly falling into a sinkhole.

You remember our sad-looking garage, right? Unfortunately, I believe the garage overheard me telling my wife that I liked her curves, and got the wrong idea. This is not what I had in mind.

Sad Garage

The truth is that I don’t really mind our wonky garage. I couldn’t care less that the roof is sagging or that the walls aren’t plumb. What drives me batty, though, is the cracked and sloping concrete slab inside the garage. You can tell from the sagging eaves that the side entry door is the low-point for the entire structure.

Enter: Sinkhole.

Maybe. It’s sunk at least 6″, if not a full foot right under that door, and since the whole yard drains to that point, we get up to 6″ of standing water at that point. This past winter, the bottom of the door was underwater, so whenever the water would freeze, the door would also be frozen in place. Take a look at this slab:

Cracked Slab - Sinkhole?
Cracked Slab - Sinkhole?

I dunno. I think there may be a soils stability problem. The slab just seems to have sunk too much for this to be typical soils consolidation and settling.

The sad part about this is that the timber structure is actually still in great shape, considering the terrible condition of the foundation. Seems like a shame to tear down the whole garage just because I don’t like the sloping floors… but I’m tired of setting the lawn mower on one side and watching it roll across the garage to the low point.

We’ve considered a half-dozen options, but we’ve narrowed it down to the following:

1) Jack the sunken side of the building up into (sort of) place, and pour a new slab right over the top of the existing slab. Pros: this would be cheap, relatively easy, and would solve my primary complaint (the sloping floor). Cons: this wouldn’t pass muster with any sort of building code, and is only a temporary fix. A big unknown is exactly how much life we’d get out of the new slab before it looked just like the old slab. 1 year? 5 years?

2) Full tear-down and rebuild.  Pros: new, bigger, meets building codes. Cons: cost, have to deal with permits, very time consuming; if there is a sinkhole or soils issue, fixing it correctly could be a major can of worms I don’t want to open.

Hmm… what do you think? quick fix or expensive fix?

Clearing Out the Brush

One of our big projects for the summer will be to put a band-aid on this garage. The garage is original to the house (1939), and as you can clearly see from the photo, it’s in rough shape. See how the roof is all bowed in?

Crooked Garage.

When we bought the house, we were pretty convinced that the garage just needed to be torn down. And we still pretty much think that’s the case, but instead of the $20,000-$30,000 a new garage would cost, we’ve decided that we think we can spend $1,000 or less and keep it for a few more years, if not indefinitely.

The roof is sagging, so naturally, the first thing you think is that the roof rafters are probably all rotten. Except that their not. Structurally, everything wood in this garage is still in pretty good shape. The problem is that the foundation has sunk out from beneath it. So while this really looks like a roof problem, it’s actually a foundation problem, which has sunk as much as 6″ or so right in front of the door.

Our plan, which may or may not work, is to jack up this side of the garage, figure out how to get some sort of band-aid foundation underneath it, and set it back down. We’re not really sure how we’re gonna do it, yet, but we’re gonna give it a shot.

Anyway, before we can do anything like that, we needed to clear out this pile of branches and stuff that’s been sitting here  since last fall.

Brush Pile

Luckily, a spool of twine can keep a 10-month-old entertained for quite a while.

KP playing with twine.

This is what it looked like when we finished clearing out all the dead leaves and plants.


The next step will be to dig out around the foundation of the garage to figure out exactly how we’re going to get a new band-aid foundation underneath this wall.

Got any suggestions?